In contrast, those who have witnessed the impact of consumer technologies on other sectors have no doubt of the inevitability of huge impact on the healthcare sector.
I think they are both right, but the only way for this to be possible, is for digital health to develop in areas not already covered by entrenched HIT systems.
So what might these non-overlapping areas be?
One way to assess these is to look at the data. HIT systems are inherently data-centric – they are used to capture, store and provide data. Ideally these data should be integral to processes, so as to facilitate them.
HIT systems store lots of patient data. Ironically, if you have always been healthy, there is very little data stored about you. It is only when you become a 'consistent' patient receiving diagnosis and treatment that data starts to accumulate. And if you are a chronic patient with one or more serious diseases, your data grows rapidly.
Ideally, the more actionable data that is collected about you in a healthy state, then the longer you can avoid being a patient and the less data on you there will be in HIT systems.
Electronic Health Records (EHR) systems that are a class of HIT designed to share patient data widely, typically between different organizations, and with patients themselves. But while EHR systems are patient-centric, they are not ‘healthy-person’ centric.
So there is a big gap.
Consumers would prefer to avoid being patients, therefore any consumer-oriented technologies that can help them achieve that aim are likely to be attractive. And systems designed to for consumers themselves to store, and more importantly, act on this health data are going to be critical. Current HIT systems are not designed to do this, and their owners (who are not the patients) are not motivated to integrate consumer-oriented data.
It is not surprising that the early consumer health apps are oriented to health maintenance, but the multiple different apps and devices have not yet been designed to interface with a consumer-managed HIT system. While there are already some Patient Health Records (PHR) systems, the necessary forms of consumer digital health systems have not yet been designed. But when they have been designed then implemented, there will be 'systems' likely much larger than any traditional EHR system, likely more technically complex, but far simpler to use - in the tradition of other consumer digital advances.
EMR vs. EMR: Electronic Medical Records (EMR) systems generally refer to the HIT systems used by clinicians, typically in their offices. The term Electronic Health Records (EHR) refers to systems that enable patient data to be shared far more widely, typically between different organizations. There is a good discussion of the distinctions between these here: http://www.healthit.gov/buzz-blog/electronic-health-and-medical-records/emr-vs-ehr-difference/.